As Americans break out the space heaters and portable generators to battle the onset of cold weather, the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC), in a recent press statement, warns consumers of the increased danger of potential exposure to poisonous carbon monoxide (CO) gas from the use of such appliances. Other possible sources of risk include furnaces, water heaters, stoves, ovens, wood and gas fireplaces, wood-burning stoves and automobile engines.

“All fuel powered engines produce CO gas,” explains AAPCC Board Member Edward P. Krenzelok, PharmD, director of the Pittsburgh Poison Center. “Although such devices are safe if used correctly, a malfunction or improper ventilation can make these common household appliances deadly.”

AAPCC offers some tips to help prevent carbon monoxide poisoning:
  • Inspect and adjust all combustion appliances and especially your furnace before every heating season.
  • Inspect your chimney, fireplace, wood stoves and flues before every heating season.
  • Repair chimneys and flues as needed.
  • Do not use charcoal grills indoors for cooking or heating.
  • Do not use your oven to heat your home.
  • Do not leave your car’s engine running in an enclosed or attached garage, even if the door is open.
  • Install a carbon monoxide alarm outside of every sleeping area in your home.
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